On a day when the American Ryder Cup squad was getting spanked in Scotland, the veterans of the golf world, the Champions Tour players, were reveling in gorgeous early autumn weather on the Monterey Peninsula at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. In Scotland, a pair of American rookies, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, faced down the European Ryder Cup squad’s acknowledged “stud hoss”, Ian Poulter, and the hometown kid, Stephen Gallacher, in morning fourball while the veteran pairs got spanked in the afternoon foursomes. Meanwhile, at Pebble Beach, veterans of past Ryder Cups were playing with fresh-faced youngsters from First Tee chapters across the United States.
Former U.S. Ryder Cup captains Ben Crenshaw, Tom Lehman, and Davis Love III are in the field at the 2014 Nature Valley First Tee Open, along with former U.S. team members Mark Calcavecchia, Jay Haas, Hale Irwin, Larry Nelson, Mark O’Meara, Steve Pate, Scott Simpson, Craig Stadler, and Fuzzy Zoeller.
Of the former Ryder Cup players who are in the field at Pebble Beach, three-time veteran Jay Haas (’83, ’95, ’04) fared the best in Friday’s opening round, carding a three-under 69 at the newly-renovated Poppy Hills.
The overall leader in the pro ranks at the end of play Friday was Blaine McAllister, a University of Houston grad who turned pro in 1981. McAllister, a natural lefty who plays right-handed but putts left-handed, carded a 5-under 66 at Poppy Hills on the strength of six birdies and one bogey, equaling his best round on the Champion Tour in four years.
Northern and Central California well-represented in junior players field
The 81 junior players in the field at the 2014 First Tee Open come from First Tee chapters all across the country; 56 chapters are represented in the field, and 15 of the junior players come from chapters in Northern and Central California. The Greater Sacramento leads the area with five players in the field, Silicon Valley is next with three, the Monterey County and Tri-Valley chapters each have two, and the Fresno and Contra Costa chapters one.
The best start among local junior players came from Logan Lowe of the Greater Sacramento chapter, who posted a team score of 8-under with pro partner Jeff Sluman, a 3-time winner (2008, 2009, 2011) of the First Tee Open. Lowe/Sluman are one stroke behind the leading pro/junior team of two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen and Christopher Meyers of the First Tee of Tucson. Next, T-3 at 6-under, was the Silicon Valley chapter’s Anna Zhou, playing with pro partner Tom Pernice Jr. Mark Mahlberg of the Greater Sacramento chapter, Patrick Abadilla of the Monterey County chapter, and Nikhil Swaminathan are T-10 with 5-under pro/junior team totals.